Saint Boniface

Boniface, Saint (bŏnˈĭfəs, –fās) [key], c.675–754?, English missionary monk and martyr, called the Apostle of Germany, b. Devonshire, England. His English name was Winfrid. He was educated in the monastery of Nursling, near Winchester. In 716 he made his first trip to Friesland to aid the mission of St. Willibrord, but unsettled conditions forced his return to England. In 718 he left England for Rome where Pope Gregory II encouraged his missionary zeal and gave him the name Boniface. Under the protection of the Frankish ruler Charles Martel, Boniface and his companions made many converts in Thuringia, Hesse, Franconia, and Bavaria. His chopping down of Thor's famed sacred oak at Fritzlar symbolized the advance of Christianity in pagan Germany. He established an orderly Christianity there closely tied to the papacy. He became regionary bishop (722) and metropolitan of Germany (731), creating new bishoprics under the supervision of his English disciples. He founded monasteries at Reichenau (724), Murbach (728), and Fulda (744), which became important centers of learning. As papal legate he reformed (c.745) the decaying Frankish Church. He was consecrated (745) archbishop of Mainz. He was martyred by pagans in Friesland. Feast: June 5.

See his correspondence tr. by E. Kylie (1966).

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